We all manage to accumulate prescription and non-prescription medications that we no longer need. They can sit in our medicine chests accumulating dust or even be stolen and sold for illegal use. Some people just throw them away in their garbage cans and others flush them down the toilet.

Al three of these solutions are bad and should be avoided. Leaving them in your medicine chest makes them available to be stolen and misused. A large number of bottles can become confusing and lead to accidental medication errors. Throwing them in the trash and flushing them down the toilet introduces medications into the water table, poising other people.

So, how can medications be safely disposed?

The FDA sponsors a National Drug Take-Back Day to remove unused medications from circulation, and ensure their safe disposal. This event, involving local law enforcement and other community organizations, has collected more than 774 tons of medications since it began in 2010.

The next, the 5th Annual National Drug Take-Back Day is Saturday, September 29, 2012. According to the FDA thousands of sites have been set up nationwide, and all locations are collecting medications from 10 am to 2 pm.

To find a site near you go to:
www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/drug_disposal/takeback/index.html Then click on “Search for a collection site near you.

CAUTION: Make sure that you black out all personal information from the bottles. Some sites will do this, but many will not

For more information on safe drug disposal, go to www.justice.gov/dea/index.shtml and click on “Drug Disposal.”

Joel T. Nowak, M.A., M.S.W.